Athlete’s imposters’ syndrome. This is something I had struggled with a lot growing up. I was a runner, an Irish dancer, a downhill skier, a basketball player, a touch football player… Yet, whatever sport I was playing, these thoughts would always creep up on me:
“She’s better than I am.”
“I have lots of practice to do.”
“I wonder if I’ll ever be at so-and-so’s level.”
“I’m not good enough.”
Turns out I wasn’t alone, though. I brought this subject up with my sister, Heather, and she told me she felt the same way. My sisters and I were thrown into ski lessons as soon as we could walk so we’ve felt comfortable on the slopes for pretty much our whole lives.
When we got to high school, Heather and I began to race competitively (she was always better than I was) but I just recently learned that she had felt like a “poser” or imposter every time she raced. We had literally been skiing for 10+ years at this point, yet there she was, feeling out of place and like she wasn’t legit enough to fit in with the other racers.
Because she hadn’t been “competitive” until she was a teen?
What was it about us that made us feel so inadequate? Why did we struggle with confidence in things we were actually GOOD at? Part of me thinks that’s just what comes with being an awkward teenager, but I also know a lot of people who never struggled with this (or I guess, more likely, never talked about it).
As I grew up and began to get to know myself a little better, (aka reading approximately 1700 self-help books) these thoughts started to go away. I started to care less about how others surrounding me performed because I realized that 1) I’m no longer competing for any trophies/medals/titles and 2) I’m an adult. I don’t need to compare myself to anyone. HA! Easier said than done, I know.
So, you may be asking yourself: What does this have to do with hiking?
Well, these nasty, annoying thoughts crept their way back into my head about a week ago when someone asked me for hiking advice.
I’ve only been ‘seriously’ hiking for about 3 years now but since then have tackled some wicked tough day hikes like the Bruce Trail in Tobermory, Mount Marcy in Lake Placid and Mount Washington in New Hampshire.
I’ve summited Mount Kilimanjaro, an 8-day trek that ended with a midnight summit night and I’m just about to start my training for a trip to Everest Base Camp in 8 months from now.
Yet, here I was, feeling like a complete imposter when asked for advice.
What made this person think I was legit? I only started hiking a few years ago! Yes, I have a hiking blog with my best friend that I’m super passionate about but little does this person know that I still consider myself a COMPLETE newbie.
This is where I caught myself though.
I’m a newbie. I haven’t been hiking for years and years and I just discovered Merino Wool this past winter. I’m a newbie. I only JUST figured out the proper amount of water to consume while hiking and I still wear a baseball cap on sunny days that has zero back of neck protection from the sun so I sometimes burn. I’m a newbie. My sense of direction is and always has been horrible and I’m still convinced I could survive off Cliff bars alone (shout out to Kristi for never laughing at my hilarious poop joke). I’M. A. NEWBIE.
And… I’m okay with that!
This is a learning process for me. This blog, these community hikes we organize, the various speaking engagements we’re asked to participate in; I’m learning AS I’m teaching.
Isn’t that half the fun?